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President involved in public discussions over Constitution

By Messenger Staff
Monday, May 8
Georgia’s President accepted Parliament's offer and will now be personally involved in the public discussions aimed at informing the people of Georgia about the planned amendments to the country’s main legal code.

It was President Giorgi Margvelasvili’s wish to be part of the public discussions after he boycotted the special State Constitutional Commission which drafted the changes.

The State Commission was the initiative of the Georgian Dream ruling team in order to “improve the drawbacks” in the Constitution caused by the previous United National Movement leadership in 2010.

Margvelashvili proposed that he be the co-chair of the State Constitutional Commission together with the Prime Minister and the Parliament Speaker. However, his offer was turned town, and the commission was chaired solely by the parliament Speaker and composed of 73 members from the ruling party, opposition, NGOs, experts and a number of court representatives.

At the final stage of the four-month activities in April, some of the opposition and NGOs quit the Commission, accusing the ruling team of fitting the changes to its own interests, an accusation that was dismissed by the Georgian Dream party.

After the Commission presented the draft of the changes, a nine-member special commission must now organize meetings in the regions of Georgia to inform people about the planned amendments.

A particularly of noisy meeting has already been held in western Kutaisi. In the following meetings on May 8 in Batumi and on May 9 in Zugdidi, the President will also participate.

The ruling team believes the President made 'the right step' through becoming involved in the process.

For his part, Margvelashvili disagrees with several key points in the draft.

One of the points is about the indirect election of the president and depriving the president of the position of Commander-in-Chief.

The President is also against giving all undistributed votes - those gained by parties which failed to appear in Parliament - to the party gaining first place in an election.

Margvelashvili says if approved, the change would be the “illegal grabbing of the people’s votes”.

The first public discussion in Kutaisi showed that only interested people - and not many of them - appeared to participate in the process.

It will prove to be most enlightening as to how useful the discussions will be when a wide spectrum of people are not involved in the process and when the ruling team has 116 seats in the legislative body, when 113 votes are necessary to approve the amendments.